A few years ago I was sitting on the second row at church when a family came in and sat in front of me. There were four adults and one baby girl, and it looked as if the adults were the child’s parents, her grandmother, and her aunt.
They arrived about fifteen minutes late and left about fifteen minutes early, and for the short time that they were there, I watched in amazement as all four adults spent the entire time fussing over the baby.
The Big Fuss began the moment that they sat down. Mom handed Baby to Grandma so she could get something from the (Mary Poppins/false bottom/endless contents) Diaper Bag. First came the bottle, then the formula, then the matching burp rag and bib. Baby got passed down to Daddy who held her while Grandma got the bottle ready. Then Baby and bottle both got passed to Mommy who tried to feed her.
Baby was not interested.
Back went the bottle, the burp rag and the bib, and out came the pacifier. Mommy gave Baby to Auntie and began rummaging in the Diaper Bag, for Important Item. She dug and dug, searching for Important Item that she had to have Now. After pulling out everything from diapers to clothes to Baby’s first tricycle, Important Item was finally found.
A hair clip.
The Big Fuss continued for several more minutes with Mommy, Daddy, Grandma and Auntie all fiddling with Baby until Mommy unveiled the final item from the Diaper Bag: fingernail clippers. And then she proceeded to clip Baby’s fingernails right there on the front row. I was all set to lean down and say (in Christian love, of course), “Seriously? You can’t find a better time to trim your child’s fingernails?!” when they gathered up Baby and Diaper Bag and left.
I couldn’t help but wonder why the family even came to church in the first place that day. Of course I’ve been in church with my children before and I know how distracting it can be, but in this case, it was the adults who were being high maintenance! The little girl seemed more disturbed than comforted by The Big Fuss.
The adults were so close to hearing a word from God that day. They were in the right place at the right time with the right message being taught. They just chose to be distracted instead.
Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon to be so close to Christ and still miss out on Him and His best for our lives. The Bible is full of people who were so close. Consider these familiar stories:
1. The Rich Young Ruler – He asked the right question to the right person and received the right answer. The problem was that he was rich and couldn’t imagine that life could be better without all of his stuff. He was so close to eternal life, but chose materialism instead. (Luke 18:18-23)
2. Ananias and Sapphira – At first, they appeared to be very generous, selling their land and giving the proceeds to the disciples. The problem was that they kept some of the money for themselves and lied about it. They were so close to generosity, but chose deceit instead. (Acts 5:1-10)
3. The Churches in Pergamum and Thyatira – They were loyal to Christ, faithful in service, and genuine in love. However, they allowed inaccurate teaching from false prophets like Jezebel and the Nicolaitans. They were so close to truth, but chose tolerance instead. (Revelation 2:12-29)
4.The Disciples – In the garden of Gethsemane, just before Judas betrayed Jesus, He asked them to pray for Him. The only problem was that they couldn’t stay awake. They were so close to prayer, but chose sleep instead. (Matthew 26:36-46)
In Christianity, it’s our actions that matter, not our intentions, so being close doesn’t count. Do you have good intentions? Are you close to obeying God? Consider how you can transform those intentions into actions and pray for clarity to know the difference.
I’ve often heard it said that “Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.” While I don’t know if that’s true or not, I do know that I don’t want to stand before our Lord one day and hear Him say, “My child, you were so close…”